Greathouse: Countdown to Juneteenth in Joliet on Sunday

Toni Greathouse

“Someday I am going to change the world.”

Those words are the motivation to reconfigure relationships and reshape conversations based on the commonalities of citizenship rather than focusing on divisions by class and race.

From noon to 4 p.m. Sunday, June 19, Juneteenth in Joliet opens an avenue in an atmosphere amid nostalgia to move beyond racial gridlock. We draw on caricature art (pun intended) to lighten the mood and look at personal perceptions before proceeding to act. The Joliet Area Historical Museum extends free entry to experience ambient gospel music, watch a documentary and see Black Caricature Artists at work “drawing-out” the best in people. We return to the original roots of Juneteenth which emphasized progress and personal empowerment.

The ask is to do what you can with what you have where you are to navigate the minefield of hidden racial bias. The take-away encourages people to think before responding. Assuming this stance introduces a creative solution to facilitate the uncomfortable process of racial healing. It is my belief that the creative process holds the best hope of making peace between warring factions.

Understanding is bridged by two panels of professionals who speak across the spectrum of entrepreneurship education faith and the law. Creativity is further unleashed via the explanation of a Black History themed “Jeopardy meets BINGO” game. The activity carves out space to keep Black History top of mind over the course of a full year. It engages family friends and co-workers inviting them to embark on a metaphorical voyage, back in time. Players/explorers delve into the hidden history that shaped and defined the experiences of all Americans and gave birth to Black culture. Each question represents a thread woven into the national tapestry that has strengthened the fabric of the United States of America.

The game piggybacks on the work of journalist Michele L. Norris who founded “The Race Card Project.” She facilitated honest conversations about race by placing a cap on words. Norris asked strangers to sum up their feelings in six words. She left no room to editorialize which evoked half a million responses. Floodgates opened on a sensitive topic. Honest answers that had long stagnated in the inner sanctum of respondent’s brains evoked responses that broke down barriers to understanding.

Conversely, the role of Juneteenth in Joliet is to bring diverse people together and in doing so increase knowledge about the Black Americans whose contributions improved our national quality of life. On June 19, 1865, when formerly enslaved people finally learned (by federal order delivered in Galveston, Texas) of the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation - freedom for all - initiated the greatest flex this country has ever known. Against seemingly insurmountable odds Blacks in every corner of the country have positively impacted law, education, entrepreneurship, science, literature, arts and culture, music and sports.

Summarily, the program is designed to highlight the wonderful ways Black culture has added a unique flavor that enhanced the most infamous melting pot on the planet. Moreover, it expresses the sentiment that “Black History is a Great American Story!”

Virtually flip through the program book here.

Register here:

Toni Greathouse is an “Entrepreneurial Evangelist” whose purpose is spelled out in the letters of her first name - serving as a reminder to Take On Neighborhood Interaction & Try Out Novel Ideas.